IMAGE: Madeleine McCann
David Moir  /  Reuters
This photo of Madeleine McCann has been used to make posters in the search for the missing British child.
updated 5/25/2007 7:53:10 PM ET 2007-05-25T23:53:10

The parents of a 4-year-old British girl who vanished during a vacation in Portugal three weeks ago said Friday the guilt they feel over leaving her alone in a hotel room will haunt them forever.

Police, meanwhile, announced they were searching for a white male between the ages of 35 and 40, who was seen possibly carrying a little girl on May 3 in Praia da Luz — the date and place where Madeleine McCann disappeared.

Gerry and Kate McCann, in an interview with Britain's Sky TV, also said they had no plans to return to Britain without their daughter.

"I can't think about going home without Madeleine," said Kate McCann while holding a pink stuffed toy cat that had belonged to the girl.

Madeleine disappeared after her parents left her and her brother and sister, 2-year-old twins, alone in their room while they went to a restaurant inside their hotel complex in Portugal's Algarve region.

"I think it's fair to say that the guilt that we feel, having not been there at that moment, irrespective of whether we had been in the other bedroom or not, will never leave us," said Gerry McCann.

"Certainly the first few days the guilt was very difficult," added his wife.

She also said she felt they were "very responsible parents."

"For us it really wasn't all that different from having dinner in your garden in the proximity of the location," she said.

Witness saw suspicious man
The description of a suspect came at a news conference by Olegario Sousa, chief investigating police officer, who said the man was 5-foot-10, medium build, and wore a dark jacket and light beige trousers.

"This description was given to us by one of the witnesses in the case," said Sousa.

Pool  /  Reuters
Gerry and Kate McCann sit with their twins, Sean and Amelia, in their apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 19.
"The man was carrying a child or an object that could have been taken as a child" Sousa told journalists.

Police had questioned Robert Murat, a 33-year-old British man, but later released him, saying they did not have enough evidence to bring charges. Murat lives near the McCanns' hotel in Praia da Luz.

When asked if the description matched that of suspect Robert Murat, Sousa said, "This description could fit a lot of different persons."

Sousa said dozens of reports of Madeleine's possible whereabouts were still being checked but none had proved positive.

He also said that Interpol has supplied information to the investigation.

Forensic tests on evidence in the case are still far from being completed, said Duarte Nuno Vieira, head of the National Forensic Medicine Institute.

The family is concentrating on its Internet and media campaigns to publicize her disappearance across Europe.

"So many people are doing so much to help us find Madeleine," Gerry McCann said. "We want Madeleine back and people can influence that," he said. "One evil act has resulted in so much good."

But the McCanns recognized that their lives have been seriously affected.

"Physically and mentally, we're shattered," said Kate McCann.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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